How I Heal

May 30, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Posted in Healing | 1 Comment
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red crossred crossred crossred cross

Marked Readers –

Have those feral/resto spec’d druids out there ever notice how the role you fill most switches back and forth every few weeks?  You’re going along and healing Naxx and OS and EOE and Heroics because, well, that’s what the group needs.  Then all of a sudden, you’re asked to tank and that’s your thing for the next week or so because, well, that’s what the group needs.  There is no rhyme or reason to it (at least in my case), no healers or tanks have gone on vacation, it’s just the way it goes. 

I’m in healing mode right now, and have been for longer than usual.  I think the reason this time is because I’ve built a reputation as a healer among some of the raiding guilds on my server and they ask me when they’re short.  Raiding guilds are never short on tanks, and they’re (rightfully, I suppose) reluctant to take a PUG tank if they are.  But healing is a different story.  Healers don’t need to know the fight backwards and forwards as much, just give them an assignment and  brief explanation on what to not stand in or when to run around etc. and you’re set.  Plus, folks love Trees. 

So today I thought I’d write about my healing style – my build, my glyphs, and my rotation. 

First I’ll explain my build.  I don’t think there’s anything extraordinary about it, but it’s not the full cookie-cutter.  Hmm, well, wowarmory seems to be down for maintenance at the moment, so I’ll come back to my build.  (Is it wrong that I don’t have it memorized?  I hope not).

I do know what glyphs I have though.  Until 3.1 and the new glyphs, I had the Glyphs of Regrowth, Rejuvination, and of course, Swiftmend.  3.1 brought new choices and I decided to take the Glyph of Nourish over Wild Growth and Rebirth.  My rationale was pretty straightforward – I didn’t want to ‘waste’ a glyph slot on a talent that I would use once every 20 minutes at best (worst?) and often less than that.  True, it would be nice to have and I expect that if I were in a set raiding group with multiple Trees, one of us would have it.  But whenever I b-rez someone, it’s well known in the raid that it’s happening and we ensure they get back to full health ASAP (I even throw a MOTW for good measure).  So I just haven’t seen too many cases where you’d need 100% health right away.  So the new Rebirth was out.  What about Wild Growth? 

I love Wild Growth.  It’s an awesome spell and gives us Trees a very powerful and unique AOE heal.  In it’s generic form, it heals up to 5 party/raid members and the glyph boosts that to 6.  Not bad, a 20% overall boost in healing.  You’d think.  But that’s not quite accurate.  When this glyph was first announced, I started paying attention to my WG’s and how often they popped up on 5 folks.  And the answer?  Often, but not an overwhelming amount (I didn’t pay close enough attention for actual statistics).  I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because folks spread out naturally to get a better view of the fight, or because on most fights, spreading out is needed to avoid AOE, but finding clusters of 5  isn’t easy.  And if that’s the case, that sixth WG would be going to waste much of the time, wouldn’t it?  Now, if I raided 25-mans more, things would be different, I’m sure.  In big raids, you can’t swing a 1-handed mace and not hit someone, but for me and my 10 mans?  WG is fine as is. 

I should say the other druid healer in my guild has the WG glyph and really likes it.  So there is a definate audience out there.  But for me, the choice comes down to Nourish.  6% healing boost for each HoT?  Even if stacks of Lifeblooms don’t count (and they don’t :(), we can still get a 24% boost for each Nourish if we time it right and 18% in most circumstances.  Regrowth, Rejuvination and LB are always on my guys and if I need an extra boost, I’ll toss a WG as well.  Plus, the included 20% boost of the base heal if one of the HoTs is on as well  I can’t describe how satisfying it is to top a tank off with just a 1.5 second cast (less with haste!).  So Nourish it is.  Though I balked at paying the 2-300g for it when it first came out, when it dropped to 40g, I took the leap. 

But what to replace?  Swiftmend stays.  It is by far my favorite glyph.  Glyphs that enable a spell to not consume what it normally consumes tend to be very popular because it frees the caster from having to re-apply something and saves a GCD.  So it came down to Regrowth and Rejuv.  Rsejuvination is nice.  50% more healing when you need it most (when your target is <50% health).  Plus it’s an insta cast, so I can throw it back on quickly and it doesn’t take as much monitoring.  But still, I didn’t notice too many times that I was healing targets under 50% health.  Either my HoTs were keeping them up, or other healers were throwing big heals out, or a quick SM or NS/NT got them back in the green.  What about Regrowth?  It’s a great glyph, 20% extra heals is nothing to sneeze at, but I can’t say I keep it up all the time.  Sometimes in th heat of th battle, I lose track of the ones I’ve casted and they expire.  So it’s definately not as easy to monitor as Rejuv.  Plus, it takes some extra timing since it takes around 2 seconds to cast.  I don’t want to cast it too soon and lose HoT ticks, but I don’t want it to expire. 

Decisions, decisions. 

Ultimately, I went with Regrowth mainly because how well/often it works depends on me.  I’m the one who’s responsible for keep in up to get the bonus.  If I went with Rejuv, I’d almost be hoping my target would drop below 50%.  Well, not hoping, but you get the idea.  I want my glyphs to have an impact, not wait on circumstances to align just right. 

So my major glyphs are Swiftment, Nourish, and Regrowth.  My minors are Thorns, Unburdened Rebirth, and MOTW.  The last two are no-brainers, but why Thorns?  I dunno, I don’t swim much, I don’t have Typhoon, I guess I could use Dash, but never got around to changing them.  When you paid for each respec, including glyphs, I kept my minors the same, with Thorns, Rebirth and Challenging Roar.

So now that my glyphs are set, what rotation to do I use?  Well, it kinda-sorta depends on who I’m healing/what role I’m filling.  If I’m on raid heals, I don’t have a spcific rotation per se but rather I prioritize my spells.  I typically start with my instants – Rejuv and LB and I spread them around depending on how many folks are taking damage and how much damage they’re taking.  The purty boys usually take damage all at once and it’s typically a one hit amount and that’s it.  By tossing a few HoTs on them, I can let them heal up over time.  If someone accidentally (stupidly) steals aggro or stands in an ashtray too long and takes a bigger hit, I’ll use a regrowth or even an SM or NS/NT.  In fact, I tend to use my SM and NS cooldowns more on the purty boys than the tank, even when I’m healing the tank.  I’d guess it’s mostly because tanks have dedicated healers and therefore don’t need ‘oh craps’ as much.  But in any event, raid heals tend to be more intuitive than a straight rotation. 

On tanks (and off tanks) it’s a bit different, though.  There is a rotation I try to stick with as much as possible.  The rotation revolves around a couple major features – keeping as many HoTs active as possible to boost Nourish; making LB last as long as possible but ensuring it expires after 3 stacks so I get that mana back; keeping Regrowth up and ticking; and oh yeah – keeping the tank alive. 

Basically, the rotation is this: LB RJ RG LB RJ LB (let it expire) refresh as needed and Nourish and SM as needed. 

I add additional LBs only when the stack is about to expire.  This way, I get over 20 seconds of HoT goodness per stack.  Once I have 3 stacks up, I have to let it expire so I get the mana refund.  Keeping LBs rolling sparks fond memories, but sucks your mana dry in no time.  I also keep my Regrowth refreshed and try to cast it with 3-4 seconds left on the timer (more if I’m lagging).  I dont’ want to lose more ticks than necessary, but I also need to keep it up. If in doubt, refresh early.  Rejuvination is something I throw in as needed.  I try to keep it rolling, but if it drops off for a few seconds, it’s not a big issue.  

I’m usually able to keep this rotation up on both the MT and OT consistently.  Or I can keep it up on one and throw hots around the raid if needed.  That takes a bit more concentration, though.

The Big Two

May 28, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Tanking | Leave a comment
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Marked Readers –

The Big Bear Butt had a post yesterday asking Blizzard to make stats more comprehensible and to have gear progress as raiders do.  It’s interesting always, but I as I was reading it, I realized something – I don’t care about most of the secondary or tertiary stats that druids should be focusing on.   Though I know I probably should know the hit cap number off the top of my head (along with the expertise cap for dodge and block).  I probably should have a better understanding on how armor penetration works (or any understanding, for that matter).  But I don’t.  Call me old school or naive, or just plain dumb, but when it comes to tanking gear, I pretty much look at stamina and agility as my main (only?) stats. 

Armor used to be in that equation, but no longer.  Since we’re forced to share rogue gear now, we rarely have to take armor into account anymore, there aren’t many (any?) pieces that have significantly higher armor ratings than their peers.  So now I look at the stamina of a potential piece and compare it to what I have.  Then I look at the agility and do the same.  Are they both going up?  It’s an upgrade.  Is one going up and the other stays the same?  It’s a slight upgrade.  Does one go up and the other go down?  Depends on how much of a drop we’re talking about.  If it’s a significant increase on one side and a midling decrease of the other, I’ll take it.  But if the drop is too large, I’ll pass. 

Nice and scientific-like, right?  Well, it’s not and I’m ok with that.  I’m not a min/max’er.  My guild isn’t cutting edge hardcore raiding.  I don’t have a spreadsheet that I use to enter my stats and potential upgrades  into and determine which is the best.  First off, that would definately slow the raid down.  I know I’d be pissed if folks were tabbing out to check drops every boss kill – we move slowly enough tyvm.  And second, that’s just not my style.  I mean, I do my research.  I know the rotations and how to get/build/keep aggro and I know the fights I’m fighting.  But what the bosses drop?  It’s a surprise.  And I like surprises!  It’s kinda like Christmas, only with blood and guts all over. 

So let me keep building my stamina and agility and I’ll be a happy bear. 

Well, and hit.  I like hit too mostly.  Maybe it’s the hunter in me, but I know it’s very important to be able to actually strike what you swing at.  And I know there’s a hit cap out there that can be modifiedbytalentsbutthosedon’taffectyourpetsbutgemsshouldandIdon’tknowaboutbufffooddotheycount?  And what about casters, anyway?

I never remember the hit cap, or the 3% talent reduced hit cap, but I don’t mind looking it up from time to time (it’s 263 for melee, 446 for casters?!?)  But that’s as far as I go.  I’m not hit capped, but it doesn’t seem to hold us back.  The purty boys are fine doing what they’re doing and I’m not losing aggro.  I see plenty of white and yellow numbers, large and small flying all over my screen, so I imagine that I’m hitting enough.

1-2-3? A-B-C?

May 26, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Posted in Tanking | 1 Comment
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Easy 

Marked Readers:

Tanking is easy.  In fact, I’d go so far and say that main tanking is the easiest role to play in WoW today. 

What’s that? 

Blasphemy! 

BURN THIS BLOG!!!

Well, hold on, now.  Before you set butane to flat panel, at least hear me out. 

 I’m used to tanking on Nozekrusher.  And when I’m not tanking on him, I’m healing.  Why?  Tanks and healers are in short supply.  If we don’t need one to fill out our raid, we need the other.  I very rarely get to actually, you know, DPS. 

I had such an opportunity two weeks ago and was able to take my warlock into Naxx for the first time.  Now, I know the fights backwards and forwards – especially in 10-man since that is what we mostly run.  I’m usually the one that explains the boss fights to everyone before we start.  And let me tell ya, I had my head handed to me more than once.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I didn’t die any more than anyone else, but I was amazed at how much more I had to worry about than I ever did as a tank. 

Y’see tanks are pampered; but with very good reason.  Tanks hold the success of any group in their paws, plate encased hands, pink frilly gloves, or cold, glowing grips.  They MUST get, hold and keep aggro on the big uglies or else the rest of the raid dies.  Because of this, the entire raid focuses on keeping them alive, even the designers take this into account.  Since tanks must hold aggro, that’s pretty much all they have to worry about. 

Health?  Sure, it’s a concern, but if tanks don’t have their own dedicated healer (or two) they are at least the primary concern of the 5-man healer.  Every once in awhile I drink a pot and I do use my barkskin and frenzied regeneration regularly, but basically, tanks depend entirely on their healers to keep them alive.  They simply eat too much damage otherwise. 

Fight mechanics?  Again, tanks have to do some (EVERYONE must do the Safety Dance, after all).  But have you ever noticed how many ‘tricks’ tanks are exempted from, either specifically or because of dedicated healing?  Tanks never get webbed to the wall on Maexxna.  Tanks never get hit with the Instructor’s Jagged Knife.  And the next time the MT gets hit with a mutating injection, it’ll be the first.  To be honest, I have no idea if tanks are susceptible to the Widow’s Rain of Fire because I’ve never noticed it as a tank (my health never dropped much due to dedicated healing) or as a healer (I never had to alter my rotations or pop NS-HT or SM because of it).  On Sapphiron, I try to avoid the blizzards, but with a healer, it’s not mandatory and I’ve never been hit with Life Drain.   True, there are mechanics that are specific to the tank on many fights (kiting Grobbulous around the room, taunting the boss between the MT and OT on the Instructor, Gluth and the 4 Horsemen, etc.  But compared to all the healers and pretty boys and yes, even the off-tank need to deal with?  It’s cake. 

So the fights are incredibly simple (not easy, simple) for tanks.  Position the boss properly and hit and be healed.  Even holding aggro isn’t entirely your responsibility.  Folks assume you’re doing all you can on your side (which, if you’re a decent tank, you are) and that the pretty boys dealing the damage need to watch their own aggro and scale back as needed.  

Now, what about the other roles?  Do healers get any special treatment?  Not really.  While they generally have talents that make threat a non-issue (at least for us druids).  And most tanks are spamming swipe or cleave or whatever AOE talent they have so the occasional runner quickly gets pulled back into line.  Healers also don’t have to worry about being healed for obvious reasons (though you’d be surprised how many healers neglect themselves).  But they still have to worry about all those mechanics.  Mutating injection?  We’re running for the walls.  Web wrap?  How many times have I been the one wrapped just as the enrage hits and wipes the group because the Necrotic Poison was up?  Too many to count.  So healers aren’t exempted from those nice little quirks.  Plus we’re safety dancing (and diseased afterwards).  Plus, healers have A LOT on their plates.  They’re focused on their grid or healbot boxes (or even party frames for the old-schoolers out there).  They’re making sure their HoTs don’t expire or their big heals are cast early enough and their oh-crap cool-downs are up.

 And it’s mostly the same, believe it or not for the DPS, and especially the melee folks.  The purty boys just sit back and deal damage and hog all the glory, right?  Not quite.  Most classes (at least the ones I play) require a good amount of concentration to make sure your cooldowns are managed properly and your DoTs and shots are used to the best affect.  It’s easy to get lost in your rotation.  But you can’t let yourself do that, of course.  You are full exposed to the whims of those devious developers at Blizzard.  You simply cannot afford to stand in hurt, or to mix charges, or get caught in the locust swarm.  Those things will get you killed.  Why?  Well, you most likely don’t have huge armor and/or mitigation stats to defer damage and the healers are focused on the tank!  If you’re a warlock and you don’t move out of rain of fire (or any of the numerous ashtrays scattered throughout the game) you will die before the raid healer knows what hit you.   

 Now it’s true that there are some very challenging fights for the various tanking classes, but I think overall, with the demise of cc and improvements to AOE threat generation and such, tanking is in easy mode at the moment.  It certainly hasn’t always been this way and I’m not sure how long it will last.  And most importantly, we are still held in awe by the purty boys for our willingness to do what they cannot!  Overall, I can live with that.

Naming Rights

May 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Hello Marked Readers –

I expect this post is being read mostly long after it’s written since it usually takes some time to build up a readership.  In any event, thanks for reading! 

My name is (in various spellings) Nozekrusher and I play a druid on Anvilmar.  I also have a few other toons there as well, including Nosecrusher, my hunter, my first toon to 70 , and my first main.  Eblis rounds the main toons I’ll be talking about in this blog.  Eblis is my warlock/chanter/bank/moneymaker. 

How did I come up with 2 Nosecrushers and an Eblis?  Well, it wasn’t always that way, actually.  As I said, Nosecrusher was my first toon.  I don’t really remember how I came up with the name, other than I wanted something mean sounding.  I guess since getting hit in the nose sounded painful, getting your nose CRUSHED would be worse. 

So I started playing Nosecrsuher and happily leveling him to Outland when I read an forum thread on Allakhazam about making gold by disenchanting cheap greens found through Auctioneer.  One of the things they suggested was starting a bank alt (yes, I was very clueless back in the day).  I did some research and learned that warlocks were fun to level and played much like hunters.  Good enough for me, so I started my warlock.  In choosing a name, I wanted a dark, sinister name, maybe a synonym for the devil or demon or something along those lines.  After some searching I came across Eblis.  Well, who could resist having a toon named after the cheif of all the djin?  Or the ruler of all devils.  What warlock could pass up a name that means ‘despair’?   Eblis had a name – a not-so-unique name at that. 

When my guild needed tanks and healers, I decided to roll a druid to help them out.  I am an officer, after all!  Lead by example!  Druids are Tauren, no choice there.  And Tauren are bovine-like in appearance.  Being a bit of a francophile, I wanted to fit ‘vache’ into the name (vache is french for cow).  Unfortunately, vache was taken, along with many other combinations.  Eventually, I came up with Vachequitue, which means CowWhoKills.  I was set. 

And for the next 18 months or so, everything stayed the same.  I was called Nose by most folks who knew me, especially in guild, since Nosecrusher was how they met me.  It didn’t matter if I was on Eblis or Vachequitue, I was Nose.  A few folks called me Vache, but they mostly gave in to the crowd.  And I liked it.  Nose is a short, simple name, and distinctive.   What I didn’t like was having to explain what Vachequitue meant, or being whispered in French.  (I’m like French history and all, and at one point I could speak the language, but that was a looonnng time ago). 

So a few months ago, I started contemplating a name change.  I had to overcome a few obstacles first.  The first was mental.  I started playing WoW to supplement my entertainment budget during some tough financial times.  $15 a month sure beats $40 a night at the bars.  So actually paying for something extra like a name change was a strange concept for me.  Second was, well, all the good Nosecrusher variants were taken.  I know this because I took them.  Knowscrusher?  My aborted priest and current guild AH mule.  Nozecrusher and Nosekrusher?  Both taken by toons created and forgotten.  I know I could just delete these toons and resue the name, but when I tried this, they always say the name is taken.  I’m sure I could get a GM to free it up, but that’s just too much trouble.  Eventually, I came up with Nozekrusher, though.  It fits, obviously, and overall it has worked out well.   Best $10 I’ve ever spent?  Nah, but I’m glad I did it.  (And it’s a great way to weed out your friends list too!)

Well, that’s my first post.  Hope you enjoyed it.  I do plan on talking more about the specifics of playing a druid in WoW, especially as a bear and tree.  I’ll share my thoughts on gear, enchants, professions.  I’m not a theorycrafter and I don’t have the absolute answer.  In fact, I expect that reader feedback (when it’s there) will help be become a better druid by pointing out where I’m wrong. 

<soon to be catchy phrase>

Noze

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